An effective digital marketing strategy has many strands, one of which should be paid advertising. In a competitive world, gaining quick exposure is vital for building up a strong customer base. Online advertising, also referred to as paid channel marketing or pay-per-click (PPC), can do wonders for your website traffic: the average click-through rate for Facebook Ads has jumped 275% since 2012.
However, if you aren’t using it effectively, it will do little for your business apart from blowing your budget at an alarming rate. Here are some tips on using paid ads as part of a successful digital marketing strategy.
We need to talk about keywords
A basic grounding in keywords is essential when planning a digital marketing strategy. Google Adwords is a good place to start and will help you to learn about the keywords that could be used for your industry. Whilst this will give you a good grounding in broad, or ‘head’, keywords, which can be more expensive and less effective, you will stay within budget and probably have more success with ‘long tail’ keywords. These are keywords or phrases that are, in most cases, longer than three words and more specific. For example:
Broad keyword: national parks
Long tail keyword: national parks in California for kayaking
The search results for the second category will be much more effective than the first, which will undoubtedly have high competition. The long tail example is much more specifically targeted and more likely to yield the most click-throughs. You will get a better return on investment for your digital marketing strategy if you target a large number of cheaper, lower-traffic terms instead of a small number of expensive, higher traffic terms.
Where are the best places to list ads?
The cheapest form of online advertising is text ads – the type you see at the top of a Google search page. They are less expensive than banner ads, but rely on good keyword research and testing. The most popular places to list ads are:
- Google Adwords. The obvious first choice for ad placements due to its ubiquity, offering a combination of display and text ads.
- Yahoo or Bing. Though lesser used than the mighty Google, these search engines can sometimes offer a better return on investment.
- Social advertising is huge, and Facebook is the daddy of them all. The ads combine text and pictures and can be specifically targeted using categories such as age, location, demographics and interests.
- Social network StumpleUpon isn’t as well known as big hitters like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but it is very inexpensive and worth investigating.
Tracking the success of your ads
Once your ads have been unleashed onto the world, you need to keep a careful eye on how well they are performing. If you don’t already have Google Analytics, now is the time to get it – it’s free, easy to install and can provide you with an immense amount of very useful information. Using Google Analytics Custom Campaigns you can create a unique URL for each of your ads, allowing you to track traffic and compare how well each of your ads is performing, with detailed metrics including sales, goals, bounce rate, page views and more.
Google Analytics makes creating custom URLs very simple, but there are some best practices that you should apply to make sure you’re getting the most out of them. Google Analytics can be used for tracking much more than just ads, from social media click-throughs to email marketing campaigns, and is one of the cornerstones of any successful digital marketing strategy.
The importance of creating landing pages
A landing page is a page on your website that has been specifically created for an advertising or marketing campaign; it’s where a visitor ‘lands’ after they have clicked on one of your adverts. A good landing page targeted towards a particular stream of traffic should be a continuation of the message that began with the ad that the visitor clicked on. Landing pages should be built with conversions in mind and should include the following:
- A call to action. This is why the landing page exists, so make sure it’s good. A well-crafted call to action will hugely increase the likelihood of conversion.
- Consistency with the original ad. Using the same tone of voice, branding and graphics as the ad that the visitor clicked on will create a cohesive experience.
- Internal links. Apart from the call to action, links should only take your visitor to different parts of the landing page. You don’t want to distract them with anything that might lose you a sale.
If you want to use paid ads as an effective part of your digital marketing strategy, it’s crucial that you understand the importance of landing pages. Generating leads and increasing traffic is the goal for your adverts, and landing pages make that process as simple as possible for your users.
Review, budget and plan
Review. Once your ads are listed and your analytics set up, you can review how well your campaigns are doing. It’s important not to look at your results obsessively, as this can easily lead to ongoing tinkering and never allow a campaign to get off the ground. Give your analytics a decent amount of time to accumulate accurate information, and then commit to a time period for reviewing and making changes, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis.
Budget. Paid ads are not a quick fix, so be prepared to be in it for the long haul. This means budgeting accordingly, rather than blowing your cash all in one go on an ad campaign that turns out to be a flop. Proceed with caution and don’t assume that throwing money at your ads will automatically equal success. It’s important to figure out a return on investment that works for you before you commit your money.
Plan. If you are creating a digital marketing strategy then you will be aware of the importance of planning ahead, and you must be as forward thinking with your paid ads as any other part of your approach. It’s important that you have already planned the next step in your paid ad strategy so that you can quickly make changes to your campaigns if you aren’t seeing an increase in traffic or revenue.
Paid ads can be a very effective and profitable part of your digital marketing strategy, but you should start small and find out what works before committing your money. Successful digital marketing requires a multifaceted approach, using SEO, valuable content, social media, email marketing and more, and paid ads should be an important part of the whole, rather than your sole focus. It requires patience and observation to see results, but it is a sound investment of your time.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.
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